A Moroccan Education - Gay City News | Gay City News A Moroccan Education - Gay City News | Gay City News
Quantcast

A Moroccan Education

Said Mrini, as young Abdellah, and Amine Ennaji, as his brother, Slimane, in Abdellah Taïa’s “Salvation Army.” | STRAND RELEASING

Said Mrini, as young Abdellah, and Amine Ennaji, as his brother, Slimane, in Abdellah Taïa’s “Salvation Army.” | STRAND RELEASING

BY GARY M. KRAMER | Abdellah Taïa, the celebrated out gay Moroccan writer, has adapted his autobiographical novel “Salvation Army” for the screen, and the result is remarkable. The film features a rare gay Arab protagonist, and Taïa proves himself as lyrical a filmmaker as he is a writer.

This intimate, episodic coming-of-age story is told in two parts. The first, longer section has young Abdellah (Said Mrini) living with his family in Morocco. He is secretly attracted to his handsome older brother, Slimane (Amine Ennaji), and lies in his brother’s bed, breathing into the pillow as if to capture Slimane’s essence. His mother (Malika El Hamaoui) chastises him for entering Slimane’s room, almost as if she knows about his obsession. His infatuation provides a symbolic expression of his own burgeoning but repressed homosexuality. Taïa is attuned to capturing these moments so they reveal the complexity of Abdellah’s hidden sexuality and identity; they are never lewd or vulgar moments.

Young Abdellah himself exudes a sexual magnetism, and it bewitches several older men in the town. He is stopped on the street by a man and taken to a construction site for sex. At the market, a fruit vendor caresses Abdellah’s hand and head, sending him off with a watermelon afterwards. Abdellah instinctively understands that men desire him — and that he is attracted to men — but he cannot articulate this reality. He does, however, acknowledge that sex is a means for getting something else. Taïa presents these encounters with subtlety, letting them silently inform the protagonist’s experiences, actions, and outlook.

Abdellah Taïa’s adaptation of autobiographical novel charts journey to uncertain European adulthood

The young Abdellah is not without shame about his sexuality. He is teased one night by his sister for wanting to eat with the women in the family. His relationship with his father (Abdelhak Swilah) is more complicated, and the issue of his son’s sexuality is not discussed.

Taïa takes pains to depict Abdellah’s conflicted emotions, but his narrative approach also forces viewers to draw inferences. When Abdelleh pulls off a flower’s petals, playing “He loves me, he loves me not,” the object of his desire is ambiguous. He is probably thinking about his brother, and not the stranger he recently had sex with or his father.

The film also shows how Abdellah’s formative years are shaped by the larger family dynamics. A painful scene has Abdellah’s father abusing his mother, and the family rallies to her defense. This moment, along with a scene where Abdellah reacts to a stranger’s threat on the street by shouting “I’m not afraid of you,” demonstrate his toughening up. He matures further when Slimane takes him and his much younger brother to the beach for a vacation. The trip proves a pivotal moment in his life.

At their hotel, Abdellah pretends to be sleeping as he spies on his naked brother drying off after a shower. When Slimane talks with Abdellah about the importance of learning French and leaving Morocco, Abdellah is torn. But in the film’s second part, we see him taking his brother’s advice. A critical episode when Abdellah has a sexual assignation with a stranger signals he is finally accepting his homosexuality.

Taïa captures Abdellah’s longing beautifully, poignantly, and even painfully. These encounters are shot — as is most of “Salvation Army” — with a minimalism that draws viewers in, even if the drama can at times feel detached. But there is something hypnotic about Taïa’s filmmaking here; it is always full of emotion, even when the characters are a bit aloof. A scene in a hammam is exquisitely sensual as an older man washes the mud off Abdullah’s body. Lingering shots emphasize the story’s competing themes of purification and eroticism.

“Salvation Army” jumps ahead 10 years for its second part, and here the adult Abdellah (Karim Ait M’Hand, a great physical match for Mrini) is initially involved with Jean (Frédéric Landenberg), an older Swiss professor. Their relationship, however, is yet another exchange of sex for something else. We next see Abdellah in Geneva with a student visa, searching for a place to live while he waits to start school. As he wanders the city and washes himself in a public bathroom sink, his despair is palpable. When he finally arrives at the Salvation Army, the ending is deliberately open-ended.

Taïa’s impressionistic film does not build to a dramatic climax, but each scene creates a distinctive feeling. Abdellah has a wide variety of encounters with strangers in his life, and moments from his childhood are reflected and refracted in his adult experiences. Audiences who embrace the filmmaker’s oblique storytelling technique will make connections and draw parallels. Taïa, whose book fleshes out his story more completely, has adapted it into a subtle film with less explication but no less power.

SALVATION ARMY | Directed by Abdellah Taïa | Strand Releasing | In French and Arabic, with English subtitles | Opens Jan. 23; one week only | Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 W. 65th St. | filmlinc.com

12 Responses to A Moroccan Education

  1. sdfasdf June 27, 2015 at 1:43 am

    asdfsadf sdfdsf

    Reply
  2. capstone paper June 27, 2015 at 1:45 am

    We have so many writers for write the best essays on papers. Everyone is written many educational reviews and many online essay paper writing services. Those are all helps to all the paper writing services users.

    Reply
  3. paraphrasing website October 24, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Here is a uncomplicated, rapid, and also effective strategy to generate plenty of interest for ones chiropractic process. Do this today, and also there's no question you will generate a pleasant influx of completely new affected individuals.

    Reply
  4. kulsoom January 11, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    There is entirely no restriction as far as section number, yet a decent dependable guideline is to have between six to eight passages.personal statement editing service

    Reply
  5. ornarayne January 29, 2016 at 1:53 am

    If you are in need of a writer who can offer you original content and taut assignment help, then you should get the services of this company.
    Assignment Writing UK for College

    Reply
  6. Lewi Henry February 15, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Great post about moroccan education. I like reading it. Keep sharing.
    Professional Essay Writing Services

    Reply
  7. Marilin February 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Excellent article. Keep posting such kind of information on your page. Im really impressed by it.
    Hi there, You've perforrmed an excellent job. I'll definitely digg it and for my part recommend to my friends. I am confident they'll be benefited from this site.
    http://davidjsalmon.co.uk/

    Reply
  8. allenallister March 14, 2016 at 2:56 am

    To be able to write on various topics with flourish is not easy but you will get the top writers from this firm offering exquisite essay help services.
    Australia Essay Help for Student

    Reply
  9. Stacey Donnar March 25, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Such a great post. Keep up the good work & keep sharing.
    Assignment Help UK for Student

    Reply
  10. sdfsdf May 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    jgjgjhgj

    Reply
  11. banti May 18, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Everyone can get better and helpful tips here after reading this site for great and interesing online education and exams tips with homework tips. This gaycitynews blog always sharing about better school homework and knowledge gaining tips with us.

    Reply
  12. roopa September 28, 2017 at 3:18 am

    This story is completely new and reveals so many things on moroccan education which i came to know about through best research paper writing service writing works. This story is really unique and brand new to consider. I am happy to get it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


+ five = eleven